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Posted on: October 7, 2020

Frequently Asked Questions: Civil Service System

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SPECIAL ELECTION ON THE ADOPTION OF THE TEXAS CIVIL SERVICE SYSTEM FOR FIRE FIGHTERS AND POLICE OFFICERS FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - ANNOTATED

Missouri City voters will be asked to vote for or against the adoption of the fire fighters’ and police officers’ civil service law provided by Chapter 143 of the Texas Local Government Code on or about Nov. 3, 2020. This fact sheet is for informational purposes only and is not intended to express an opinion for or against the adoption of a civil service system for fire fighters or police officers.

1.WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF CIVIL SERVICE? 

According to state law, the purpose of the civil service law is to “secure efficient fire and police departments composed of capable personnel who are free from political influence and who have permanent employment tenure as public servants.”

2.WHY ARE VOTERS BEING ASKED TO CONSIDER ADOPTING THE CIVILSERVICE LAW INSTEAD OF THE CITY COUNCIL?.

State law requires voters to decide whether a city should adopt a civil service system for fire fighters and police officers if a certain number of signatures is collected from registered voters. On January 21, 2020, the City Secretary received a petition signed by at least 10 percent (798) of the number of voters who voted in the most recent municipal election, held on November 5, 2019 (7,981). State law requires the City Council to call an election after a petition meeting state law requirements is filed. The City Council called the required election on February 3, 2020.

3.HOW IS THE CIVIL SERVICE LAW ADOPTED?

The civil service law is adopted by an election.

4.HOW IS THE CHAPTER 143 CIVIL SERVICE SYSTEM IMPLEMENTED?

The adoption of a Chapter 143 civil service system will require the City to establish a Fire Fighters’ and Police Officers’ Civil Service Commission. The Commission consists of three members appointed by the City’s chief executive, the City Manager, and confirmed by the governing body of the municipality, the City Council. A person appointed to the Commission must be the following: (1) of good moral character; (2) a United States citizen; (3) a resident of the City for more than three (3) years; (4) over 25 years of age; and (5) a person who has not held public office within the preceding three (3) years. The Commission will adopt rules that prescribe for the removal or suspension of fire fighters and police officers; investigate and report on all matters relating to civil service; and make disciplinary decisions for firefighters and police officers.

5. IF CIVIL SERVICE IS APPROVED BY VOTERS, WILL CITY PERSONNEL POLICIES AND PROCEDURES FOR FIRE FIGHTERS AND POLICE OFFICERS CHANGE?

Yes. Missouri City fire fighters and police officers are currently subject to the City’s personnel policies in the same manner as other employees. Adopting the Chapter 143 civil service system will place fire fighters and police officers under a different set of personnel rules than other Missouri City employees. Those rules will be implemented by the Fire Fighters’ and Police Officers’ Civil Service Commission. See Question 4 above.

6. HOW WILL ENTRY LEVEL FIRE FIGHTER AND POLICE OFFICER HIRING CHANGE UNDER A CIVIL SERVICE SYSTEM? 

With certain exceptions, a position or classification in a civil service system may only be filled from an eligibility list that results from an examination. Except in certain instances, the chief executive, the City Manager, is required to appoint the person with the highest grade on the examination. A person may not take the entrance examination unless the person is at least 18 years of age, but less than 36 years of age.

7. HOW WILL NON-ENTRY LEVEL FIRE FIGHTER AND POLICE OFFICER HIRING CHANGE UNDER A CIVIL SERVICE SYSTEM? 

Under the civil service system, a fire fighter is not eligible for promotion unless the person has served in that fire department in the next lower position or other positions specified by the commission for at least two years at any time before the promotional examination is held. Under the civil service system, a police officer is not eligible for promotion unless the person has served in that police department in the next lower position or other positions specified by the commission for at least two years before the date the promotional examination is held. A police officer would not be eligible for promotion to the rank of captain or its equivalent unless the person has at least four years’ of actual service in the police department filling the position. Further, a person appointed to a position in the classification immediately below that of the head of the police department would have to be a sworn police officer for at least five (5) years with at least two years’ continuous service in the police department.

8. CAN FIRE FIGHTERS AND POLICE OFFICERS BE TERMINATED THROUGH A REDUCTION IN FORCE?

If one or more positions of equal rank are vacated or abolished, the fire fighters or police officers who have the least seniority in a position are required to be demoted to the position immediately below the vacated or abolished position. Fire fighters and police officers that are demoted through a reduction in force must be placed on a reinstatement list in order of seniority. If the position is filled or re-created within one year, the position must be filled from the reinstatement list. Appointments from the reinstatement list must be made in order of seniority. If a position in the lowest classification is abolished or vacated and a fire fighter or police officer must be dismissed from the department, the fire fighter or police officer with the least seniority must be dismissed.

9. WILL CIVIL SERVICE HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE CITY’S BUDGET?

Yes; see image below.

Civil Service FAQ Budget Comparison

***This fact sheet is for information purposes only and is not intended to express an opinion for or against the adoption of a civil service system for fire fighters or police officers.***

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